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2009 Aprilia Mana 850 Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

On the Mana, a computer-controlled stepper motor manages the diameter of the front pulley according to the mode selected by the rider. There’s also a manual Shift mode that allows you to shift “gears” via buttons located on the left grip or the traditional left foot lever. Particularly well designed, the manual mode lets you shift through the seven “ratios” quickly and smoothly, without easing up on the throttle, a pleasant touch on a winding road and thrilling when taking off at a traffic light, where you leave any sports car who dares challenge choking in the dust.

The near-sportbike handling is enhanced by the electronic tranny that changes ratios at the right time, maintaining traction and keeping the hothead in the seat safe!

Disconcertingly easy to use
As we just saw, no need for a clutch lever on the Mana; simply twist the throttle and off you go, like magic. And just like a scooter, several safety systems are on watch: a parking brake, an engine cut-off when the kickstand is deployed, and the necessity to squeeze the brake lever before starting the engine.

Born with a clutch lever in my left hand, I threw a leg over the Mana full of doubts and prejudices. Much to my surprise, the Mana managed to dispel my preconceived notions by offering true riding enjoyment backed by very surprising performance right off the bat.

Everything is easy and calm with this Italian beauty, and accelerating and decelerating become child’s play. What’s more, in Shift mode the Mana 850 forgives early downshifts that would over-rev the engine and jam the rear wheel with a regular transmission, a catastrophic move going into a corner. The Mana electronics downshift at the right time, maintaining traction and keeping the little hothead in the seat on the seat safe!

Not overly potent, but still…
Even if the 76 ponies advertised seem a little on the stingy side in the face of its warrior-like style, the Mana’s behaviour on the road is as surprising as it is efficient. The performance in Sport mode is surprising, matching that of much more powerful conventional bikes, my personal GSX-R 600 for instance, up to 70 kph, and by hurtling from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds without much effort from the rider.

The braking system (320mm discs and four-piston calipers in front, and two pistons calipers in the rear) helps the sporty side of the Mana's personnality.
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